I had just received an email notifying me that Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Little Red Book of Selling, would be presenting a one day seminar in New Jersey. I was so excited! For only $99 I would be able to spend an entire day absorbing his brilliance. I love his books, yet I hesitated to register.
I told myself I hesitated because authors are not necessarily dynamic in the front of the room. A good author does not always equal an engaging speaker. So I called up Kathy who is not only my mentor but also the first person to recommend his books to me. “Have you seen him present before? Is he any good?”
To my surprise, Kathy didn’t answer my questions. Instead, she asked two of her own. “Is his topic relevant to you priorities at this time? Have you run it through your three clarifying questions?”
She stopped me cold. I was so excited to have an opportunity to see someone that I admire, that I completely failed to run the opportunity through my three clarifying questions. And when I did, I realized that this wonderful opportunity was really a distraction that would take my valuable time and resources and not help me to achieve my goals. In other words, this event was a shiny bauble.
Have you ever looked back and wished that you had foregone what seemed at the time to be a fantastic opportunity?
A simple way to identify shiny baubles (those distractions packaged as opportunities) is to adopt a habit of creating three clarifying questions. These are yes or no questions that relate to the priorities you have set for you and your company. They should directly relate to the strategic direction that you have set.
For example, if your strategic imperative is to create a new product or service you may have the following questions:
1. Will this give me the information I need to develop this product or service?
2. Will I be able to test market or get feedback on this product or service?
3. Will I make contacts that will help in the development or marketing of this product or service?
Then all you have to do is use the questions. When faced with an exciting opportunity, run it through the three questions. If you answer yes to at least one of them, then it truly is an opportunity. If you answer no to all three, you have identified a shiny bauble and strategically your best decision is to just say no.
When I ran the opportunity to see Jeffrey Gitomer through my three clarifying questions, I had three no’s and had identified a shiny bauble. Could I still have attended? Sure, but in retrospect I am happy and proud of my decision to stick with my priorities. I accomplished a great deal that quarter and met or exceeded all my goals.
Do I have regrets? Not really. Jeffrey Gitomer is still going strong. But if you hear he is going to be in the area, would you do me a favor, and let me know?
Have a great day!